Technology for Students with Learning Challenges

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One in five children in the U.S. has a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nearly 8 percent have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or behavior problem. 

Thanks to continuously evolving education technology, there are more ways than ever before to make learning more accessible and inclusive for these diverse students. Included below are just a few examples of the many effective tools to help students overcome challenges in the classroom, with homework, and more. 

ANXIETY DISORDERS 

Mindfulness Apps Stop, Breathe & Think is an award-winning app designed for K-12 students. It curates guided meditations, mindfulness training, and games to decrease anxiety and help young people better regulate their emotions. The app features audio tracks, yoga videos, and acupressure sessions that can be implemented for a few minutes at a time. A 2019 data analysis on the app’s effectiveness found students with anxiety tended to feel significantly less anxious if they regularly used the app over several months.

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY (ADHD)

Interval Timers
Personalized time interval apps like “I’m On It: Focus Timer” on Google Play allow students with ADD or ADHD improve time management skills, manage feelings of restlessness, and cope with stress by helping them focus on assignments. These apps remind users of the task at hand and tell them exactly how long they have left to complete each one. 

Vibrating watches such as Watchminders or those made by revibe.tech also serve as wearable reminders of assignments and behaviors, alleviating the need for frequent monitoring by teachers.

Conversation Builders The IOS App Conversation Planner helps children with ADD who struggle with verbal communication skills. Students can rehearse more than 130 ordinary, day-to-day interactions. Users can set conversation goals — e.g., assessing when someone is ready to talk — and move up levels after mastering certain skills. 

Removing Visual Clutter Some of the simplest yet most effective technologies for helping students concentrate are those that remove online distractions. Reader View on the Safari web browser removes videos, photos, ads, and other digital clutter from websites so that students can focus on the main content. Google Chrome also offers a simplified web page view option called “reader mode” as a browser extension.

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Assistive Technology
The SceneSpeak app assists students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with communication challenges. Roughly one-third of people with ASD are nonverbal, and 31 percent of children with ASD are diagnosed with an intellectual disability, which in turn affects their verbal communication skills, according to the advocacy group Autism Speaks. 

With SceneSpeak, these children can create interactive displays and stories with a text-to-speech option. The app also uploads custom images, text, and personalized voice recordings to help students communicate. It is currently only available for Apple products.

Speech with Milo is an entire platform of apps that help children create an interactive storybook to develop basic language skills. It was designed by a licensed speech-language pathologist and assists those with ASD and “students of all abilities” with a “broad spectrum of needs,” according to its website. 

DYSCALCULIA

Talking Calculators and Screen Readers Talking calculators or screen readers can help students with dyscalculia who struggle to read numbers. These devices have built-in speech synthesizers that allow students to hear the numbers they’ve typed. The auditory feedback helps them check the accuracy of the keys they’ve pressed, according to greatschools.org. Many screen readers come at no cost and are available through download as a browser extension, such as Apple’s VoiceOver technology.

DiversityIS does not endorse or receive financial compensation for the sale of any of these products. Mariah Stewart is a senior staff writer for DiversityIS.